How we love the fruit of the spirit – love and joy and all that good stuff! It is the very personality of God within us.
However, there is one fruit of the spirit at the end of the list that seems to be less talked about: self-control. We could call it theFinal Fruit.
“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self-control …” (Galatians 5:22)
Perhaps people are less attracted to this fruit because it demands saying “no” a little bit. It means saying “no” to our own desires, or at least restraining them to a certain degree. But this fruit is quite important.
Just Say No
Yeshua’s receiving of the power of the Holy Spirit, was directly related to Him saying “no” three times to the devil (Luke 4:14). Self-control is about saying “no” to ourselves. It is similar to “denying ourselves” (Luke 9:33). It means guarding our minds so that dark thoughts don’t come in at any time (II Corinthians 10:3-5; Philippians 4:4-8). It is keeping the door closed to anything that would give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:25-29).
We receive every blessing by grace because Yeshua was crucified for us. At the same time, God calls us to live as if we are crucified with Him.
“I am crucified with Messiah, and I no longer live, but the Messiah lives in me. The life I live now in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:22).
We call this the crucified life. It is our response to Yeshua being crucified for us. We are not actually crucified physically. We live daily “as if” we are crucified. Self-crucifixion is a spiritual parable. On a day-to-day basis I exercise self-restraint over natural desires. The fruit of self-control is the way we live out the idea of being crucified with Him.
When the Lord wants to bless us, there is first a period of self-control. Sometimes this period is one minute, sometimes one year. Often it seems like forever. Self-control is needed before the blessing, during the blessing and after the blessing.
Just because God blessed you with a nice meal doesn’t mean you have to eat everything on the table. We exercise self-control in order to keep the blessings in their place, to keep the bad things out, and to keep God on the throne over us.
This example may be a bit graphic, but self-control reminds me of when you are forced to wait before going to the bathroom. You squeeze a muscle deep down inside and hold it shut tight. On a soul level, that is what self-control is like. We are not waiting to relieve ourselves. We are waiting on the Lord. We hold ourselves back from our own instincts in order to give the Lord time and opportunity to work in our lives. While we wait on the Lord, we exercise self-control.
“Patience is greater than power; and he who rules his own spirit is greater than one who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
You can be greater than an army general, an athletic champion or a prime minister. They are heroes. The one who can control himself is a “super”-hero. Self-control is the greatest of victories.
I sense even as I write this that there is divine ability to increase self-control. I pray for you right now, as you read this, that the fruit of self-control will grow abundantly in your life.